Manic Pixie Dream Girl
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
A label for a increasingly common stock character in recent film and fiction.
[Manic Pixie Dream Girls] are usually static characters who have eccentric personality quirks and are unabashedly girlish. They invariably serve as the romantic interest for a (most often brooding or depressed) male protagonist.
This is the quixotic and irrepressible girl that forces her bubbly personality onto an otherwise depressed male and rescues him from some emotional torment.
The term was coined by Nathan Rabin in a 2007 review of the film Elizabethtown. Speaking of star Kirsten Dunst:
Dunst embodies a character type I like to call The Manic Pixie Dream Girl (see Natalie Portman in Garden State for another prime example). The Manic Pixie Dream Girl exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.
In a 2014 essay, Rabin apologized for the term:
The trope of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a fundamentally sexist one, since it makes women seem less like autonomous, independent entities than appealing props to help mopey, sad white men self-actualize.
There is a less common male corollary: the Manic Pixie Dream Guy.
Why I Looked It Up
I found an article called 16 “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” Things Women Have Confessed To That Honestly Have Me Dying on Buzzfeed. I instantly recognized the archetype, though I never heard the name.
A month after I wrote this, I found a humorous tweet:
pete davidson, travis barker, and machine gun kelly are the manic pixie dream girl of men….. the chaos goblin line cook